Will you touch an 'HIV+ poster'?
MANILA, Philippines – If you came across a drop of HIV-positive blood, would you touch it or turn away from it?
Advocacy groups, Pedal for HIV and Brazil-based Groupo de Incentivo a Vida (GIV or Life Support Group) are touring key cities in the Philippines with a poster made with a drop of HIV-positive blood and asking this question.
The groups hope that Tour de Pilipinas, a traveling HIV-awareness campaign, will help explain how HIV is transmitted and underscore the fact HIV cannot be transmitted from casual contact with a person living with HIV (PLHIV) or from touching a poster.
By addressing these common misconceptions, the two groups hope to soften the stigma associated with the virus. Advertising giant Ogilvy Brazil designed the poster for the 25th anniversary of GIV, an NGO that promotes the rights of people living with HIV (PLHIV) in the Latin American country.
Nine people representing the wide spectrum of PLHIV donated a drop of their blood for the original poster which is printed in red ink against a white background. A drop of HIV positive blood dots one side of the poster.
“There were 9 of us who donated our blood,” said Victor Silba of GIV.
“There was someone who was infected from mother to child transmission, from blood transfusion, many different ways.”
When it was first launched, the “HIV-positive” poster was distributed around high traffic sites in Sao Paulo.
The poster invited people to interact with it with this message:
"My measurements are 40 by 60 centimeters. I was printed on high brightness paper. And my weight is 250 grams. I'm just like any other poster. Except for one thing: I'm HIV positive. It's exactly what you've just read. I'm living with the virus. At this point you may be taking a step back, wondering if I offer any danger.”
People touched the poster and some even kissed it. In some sites, the people who donated their blood for the poster were waiting to meet the people who interacted with it. The end result? There was more hugging, more understanding, and more acceptance.
An article in Upworthy documented this interaction and wrote: “The HIV-positive poster is forcing people to confront their prejudice for real” with the simple most message that "if prejudice is an illness, information is the cure.” (READ: How to fight HIV: Show you care or sow fear?)
The HIV positive poster campaign has won international awards such as the Bronze Lion at the Cannes Film Festival under the Press Category.
HIV positive poster, Philippine edition
The Philippine edition of the HIV positive poster was made with the blood of Faustine Luell Angeles, Jr, founder of Pedal for HIV.
Angeles, 28, has been living with HIV for more than 4 years now. As an avid cyclist, Angeles thought that the best way to promote healthy living and break down discrimination was by integrating HIV awareness with cycling.
He hosts cycling marathons sometimes wearing a sign that he is HIV positive and has mobilized fellow athletes to be ambassadors for HIV awareness.
“When I first learned that I was positive for HIV, I became very depressed. I saw cycling as a way to mobilize people and advocate awareness, testing and a better understanding about HIV,” said Angeles. (READ: Thinking about taking an HIV test? Be brave)
“We saw what Faustine was trying to do with HIV awareness – combining it with sports and we wanted to be part of it. We have not seen something like this before,” said Silba who will be in the Philippines until mid-March for Tour de Pilipinas.
Tour de Pilipinas will be the first time that the HIV positive poster will be brought on tour around Asia. – Rappler.com
Visit the Pedal for HIV Facebook page for more information about Tour de Pilipinas.
Tour de Pilipinas is organized in partnership with The Red Whistle, an HIV awareness campaign that uses the arts and social media in its advocacy to normalize HIIV and AIDS.